It’s fastest fingers first in the latest game to join PlayStation’s social gaming platform, PlayLink.
By now we reckon almost every PS Plus subscriber has probably played the original Knowledge is Power, what with it being made available as a free download for a number of months as Sony looked to get people on board with its ambitious PlayLink initiative, whereby players interact with events on the big screen via their smart devices. As the name implies, it was a quiz-based game that challenged contestants to outsmart each other, with the experience spiced up via some added interactivity. Decades, the follow-up from Wish Studios, isn’t too dissimilar from Knowledge is Power, and it follows the same basic format.
The game is for between two to six people and each player must first download the free PlayLink companion app which is available for your mobile device, be it a phone or tablet, and connects to the same WiFi network (don’t worry if you’re playing without internet though; you can also connect through the PS4’s own WiFi hotspot). Next up you must all enter your names and choose a character to play as, before having to take a selfie to make your character just that little bit more personal, although unfortunately these selfies are used as your avatar picture and not for the characters that run around on the screen.
Decades follows the same simple formula we remember from the first game. Max, your charming host, guides you and your opponents through a dozen rounds, each one consisting of nine questions, which are now divided into three separate decades. Then there are two random bonus rounds and a finale: the Pyramid of Knowledge.
As the name of the game suggests, all the questions are based around decades, and there are four ten-year periods to choose from; the ’80s, ’90s, ’00s, and ’10s. Going back only 40 years makes it easy enough for most groups of friends and families to play without anyone having a distinct advantage, and it’s probably worth noting that while playing with a group of thirty-somethings we barely got a single question wrong, which meant there was a lot of rivalry and an eagerness to trip up opponents with Power Plays to make sure you answered the quickest.
Most of the game is very straightforward, but the Power Plays we just alluded to do mix things up a little and keep the gameplay feeling fresh. Played before a question is asked, they can either make life tricky for an opponent or possibly give the user a little boost. Power Plays such as Gloop obscure your answers, meaning you’ll have to clear the gloop away to reveal your four guesses, whereas Party Piñata gifts everyone answering correctly double points.
Each game takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes to play, which makes it great for low attention spans and toilet/drink breaks. After choosing a decade, players must also then choose a subject for each question as well as playing a Power Play. Everyone must then answer as quickly as possible, with points awarded according to who has the fastest fingers. There are a few changes to the Power Plays in Decades though, including the addition of Bug, which causes a screen glitch with a furry bug which must be tapped before revealing your answers. Alas, one of our personal favourites from the first game – called Nibblers – is now absent. For those who find the Power Plays too distracting or difficult, however, these can now be turned off individually or en mass in the settings menu.
The game then culminates in the finale, the aforementioned Pyramid of Knowledge. Each player’s points are tallied up and then placed on a step – the more points you’ve earned, the higher up the pyramid you are positioned. It’s then a race to the summit, answering as fast as possible to jump up more steps than those who are slower. This setup means that even those in last can pull it back if they can nail the answers quickly enough.
While Decades looks decidedly like Knowledge is Power, there are some noticeable differences.
When viewed side by side, Decades looks cleaner and crisper with a definite improvement in terms of the textures. This is most noticeable on the doors for each round, and then again on the Pyramid of Power itself. The background music has also been changed from jazz style lounge music to a more hairspray rock backing that certainly stands out.
Multiple players can cause a little lag, and most answers can be given before the countdown starts, although this doesn’t affect how the scoring is calculated. Problems with the network can cause players to disconnect from the game too, which can be quite frustrating and may mean they miss out on a question or two, and in a game this short it can be quite debilitating to those who drop out. A simple pause feature while they reconnect would be quite welcome rather than skipping a go.
For those who may have missed the first game, Decades will definitely give you something to play with friends now that the evenings have closed in, especially when the family comes over during the festive holidays. That said, those looking for something more than a new set of questions for Knowledge is Power may well be disappointed, and we thought the original had a broader range of subjects. Similarly, those looking for Trivial Pursuit will need to look elsewhere as this is silly, quick fun. Decades is light and simple, and the fact that it offers relatively easy questions based around popular subjects ensures that both old and young can play without too much of a disadvantage, although perhaps by making it more accessible the game itself has become less exciting overall.
Keyword: Knowledge is Power: Decades